Credit points


Campus offering

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Unit rationale, description and aim

This unit examines one of the most important periods in world history when the clash of civilisations brought about dramatic changes that influence our world today. Following Cyrus the Great’s decision to permit the return of the Jewish exiles from Babylon, the temple was rebuilt ushering in the Second Temple period (516 BCE-CE 70). This turbulent period saw a succession of conquerors, rulers and dynasties including the Persians, Alexander the Great and his successors (the Ptolemies and the Seleucids) then independence for Judea under the Hasmonaean dynasty. The civil war led to intervention by the Roman republic and conquest under Pompey the Great in 63 BCE. The years that followed brought local rule as a Roman client state under the Herodian dynasty in a period dominated by Roman civil wars, culminating in imperial rule by the Caesars. The Jewish communities thrived, but discontent seethed ending in revolt and outright Roman rule. Alexander’s conquests especially heralded epochal political, cultural and linguistic change in the Near East. This unit aims to examine the Second Temple period using a wide range of historical, archaeological, epigraphic and numismatic sources, with a focus on the nature of power, authority and the meaning of ‘freedom’. 

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Discuss theoretical and factual knowledge of the history of Judaea in the Second Temple Period and an awareness of historical debates surrounding it (GA5, GA8) 

LO2 - Communicate clearly in written and/or oral form, in a style appropriate to a specified audience to locate, use and appropriately reference a variety of primary and secondary materials relevant to Judaea during the Second Temple period to develop an evidence-based historical narrative or argument about the interplay between Judaism and Hellenism (GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9) 

LO3 - Apply critical reading skills to interpret and reflect on the concept and desire for ‘freedom’ in Judaea during the Second Temple period (GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9) 

Graduate attributes

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 


Topics will include:

  • Judaean history from the Persian to the Roman Empires  
  • Hellenisation and acculturation 
  • The meaning of freedom and the desire by the Judaeans for independence 
  • The wars of the Roman Republic as they played out in the East 
  • The nature and holding of power in the ancient Near East
  • The use of historical, archaeological, epigraphic and numismatic sources  

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This 10 credit-point unit is taught online and, as required, in multimode. The one-hour lectures provide students with content that will help inform their understanding of primary and secondary sources related to the unit’s content, and the two-hour tutorials provide an opportunity for a variety of active learning experiences. Engaging students in active learning gives them the opportunity to work through the challenges that historians grapple with when studying ancient sources, and this will allow students to develop practical skills and learn how to apply them to a study of ancient history.  

Students in this unit will be encouraged to: develop specific skills in locating, reading and analysing sources; consider different approaches to the past and the dynamics of historical and historiographical debate; and employ active research techniques into their own research and analysis. This unit introduces students to strategies that will help them to: (a) understand and interpret the history of a region; (b) take a thematic approach to the study of the past.  

This unit has been designed to ensure that the time needed to complete the required volume of learning to the requisite standard is approximately 150 hours in total across the semester. To achieve a passing standard in this unit, students will find it helpful to engage in the full range of learning activities and assessments utilised in this unit, as described in the learning and teaching strategy and the assessment strategy. The learning and teaching and assessment strategies include a range of approaches to support learning such as lectures, tutorials, reading, reflection, discussion, film screenings, skills workshops, and assignments. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

A range of assessment procedures will be used to meet the unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes consistent with university assessment requirements. Such procedures may include but are not limited to essays, examinations, student presentations or case studies.  

The Skills/Knowledge Development Assignment requires students to focus on learning and correctly applying some key discipline and content-specific terminology. This is particularly important in ancient history because students are often introduced to words and concepts with which they are unfamiliar. In completing this assignment students will demonstrate their ability to correctly apply ideas and knowledge relevant to the unit content (LO1) and to express this clearly for an academic audience (LO2). The Active Research Task gives students the opportunity to apply research techniques developed in tutorials, and key content and skills developed in the first assessment to investigate a research question and present their findings in the form of an evidence-based argument. The Summative/Analytical Task asks students to reflect on the unit as a whole and draw together themes, ideas and information in response to a specific question or questions. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1: Skills/Knowledge Development Assignment 

The key purpose of this task is for students to discuss the sources of information used to inform an understanding of the history of Judaea in the Second Temple Period. Skills developed in this task will help prepare students for the research task.



GA5, GA8

Assessment Task 2: Active research Task

Students will locate, use and appropriately reference a variety of primary and secondary materials to develop an evidence-based argument about the interplay between Judaism and Hellenisation in Judaea.


LO1, LO2, LO3 

GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9

Assessment Task 3: Summative/Analytical Task(s) 

The purpose of this assessment is for students to demonstrate their knowledge of the topic, critical thinking and clear communication skills to indicate an understanding of the impact of Judaism and Hellenisation on the striving for independent rule in Judaea. 


LO1, LO2, LO3 

GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9

Representative texts and references

Austin, M.M., 1981. The Hellenistic World from Alexander to the Roman conquest: A selection of ancient sources in translation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Brosius, M., 2006. Persians: An introduction. London: Routledge. 

Chavalas, M. (ed.), 2006. The Ancient Near East. Oxford: Blackwell. 

Goodman, M., 2010. Under the influence: Hellenism in ancient Jewish life. Biblical Archaeology Review 36/1: 60.

Miller, J.M. and Hayes, J.H., 2006. A History of Ancient Israel and Judah. New York: John Knox.  

Morris, I. & Scheidal. W. (eds), 2009. Dynamics of ancient empires: State power from Assyria to Byzantium. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 

Snell, D.C., 1997. Life in the Ancient Near East, 3100-332 BCE. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. 

Stiebing Jr, W.H., 2016. Ancient Near Eastern history and culture. London and New York: Routledge. 

Thonemann, P., 2016. The Hellenistic age.. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Van de Mieroop, M., 2015. A history of the ancient Near East, ca. 3000-323 BC. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons. 

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